I hope they know what they have gotten themselves into. You’d think they do.
The man forever known as “Dubie” – backing up Yann Danis tonight but starting next week – will steal points for the Islanders on a weekly basis. There will be plenty of nights when he and his teammates will be in over their heads, but there will be others when Dubielewicz will stand on his.
He knows he’s here by the hand of the hockey gods. Not prized by the Islanders or seen by the other 29 NHL teams as anything more than a 2-3 goaltender, he signed a two-year deal with Ak Bars of the Kontinental League because it was going to be his best offer by a large margain. At the same time he was released from his contract in Russia in late December, all over Islanders Country knees, groins and hearts were being ripped.
He’s here because there weren’t any goaltenders of his calibre so ready, willing and able. He’s here, passing on two other offers, because he has roots in Connecticut. He’s here because he’s the team’s biggest cult hero between the pipes since Chico Resch, who used to kiss them.
Dubielewicz is a proud guy. This is a man who once amiably told a group of writers, “Maybe if you stop writing that I’m a career minor-leaguer or a backup, they’ll think of me differently.” Dubie’s point was a fair one. He was a No. 1 goaltender at the University of Denver, then followed it up with a rookie season in the American Hockey League in which he had a 1.38 GAA and .946 save percentage. He became an AHL All-Star.
His folk hero status was cemented with four straight wins (and .934 save percentage) to take the Islanders to the playoffs two years ago. With the exception of the Al Arbour game, that was the last happy time for the Islanders and their fans. Still, it wasn’t enough to be locked in as the Islanders’ No. 2.
No, like he said, he’s no savior. But if you think Wade Dubielewicz is going to stand (or butterfly) for a tank job to Tavares, you don’t know Dubie.